IMG_0878Going Topless

How Baptiste Yoga gave me the confidence to take my shirt off

by Cat Scott

I live near a park: The same park I used to run at when I was on the Cross Country team for Sacred Heart Academy. Whenever I drive to the Highlands yoga studio, I drive past groups of teenagers running in just sports bras and shortie shorts and I feel a pang of jealousy: Even when I ran for SHA (not well, I should point out), I didn’t have the confidence to run without a baggy cotton t-shirt over my sports bra.

Today, 20 years later, I ran without a top over my sports bra for the first time in my life. It had not been my intention; I left the house with a tank top on, but I quickly decided it was much too humid and there was too much chafing between my arms and my ribs, so off it went.

As I jogged towards the loop at the park I was grateful that it was still dark out so no one could see me. I imagined the fellow early morning runners judging me, thinking, “Who does she think she is running without a top on? No one wants to see that.”

But no one was saying that to me. I was saying that to myself.

It’s a script that’s been playing through my head since I was a teenager, a cassette tape that was inserted early in my life that has been on repeat for two decades: “No one wants to see that.”

The Baptiste Methodology that we practice at 502 Power Yoga encourages transformation through accepting what is; accepting ourselves as perfectly imperfect. On my yoga mat over the years, instructors have reminded me time and time again that the pose in that moment is exactly as it should be. I’ve learned that wasting energy being concerned about what I look like is just robbing me of experiencing life in a real and authentic way.

As I stepped onto the running path with dozens of other pre-dawn runners, I decided to eject my tape—the tape that has been robbing me of my vitality and comfort since high school.

Instead, I chose to step outside of my comfort zone, turn inward, and give up my concern for looking good—all things I have learned through my yoga practice at 502 Power Yoga. As I jogged comfortably with the humid air against my bare abdomen, I popped in a new cassette tape that has on repeat, “I look pretty damn good for a 36-year-old mother who really enjoys cheese and crackers.”